Mason aboard as Lady Bulldogs plenty more experienced this fall
Published 12:00 am Tuesday, September 9, 2003
NATCHEZ &045; Even after that monumental win in last year’s playoffs, Natchez High’s Lady Bulldogs are pretty much the same this fall.
There may be a new coach and a few players missing from last year’s squad, but the plan is the same &045; go all out, take the playoffs one at a time and see how far they can go.
The Lady Bulldogs will suit up seven seniors and nine juniors under head coach Leigh Anne Mason, who steps in following the departure of longtime coach Sue Johnson, as prep slow-pitch softball teams at NHS, Cathedral, Franklin County and Wilkinson County begin gearing up for the fall season.
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&uot;Really, it’s OK,&uot; said senior shortstop Mable Green, a starter at the position the last four years. &uot;It’s kind of still the same, but I think we’re a lot more focused. We’re real excited about this year and ready to play.&uot;
Last year’s victory in the first round of the playoffs over Long Beach may have sent the Lady Bulldogs dancing on the field afterward &045; the program’s first playoff win in 14 tries &045; but it have set the stage more of things to come. That team didn’t lose but a handful of seniors, including speedster Karmethia Mazique and power hitter and pitcher Dalisa Lewis.
&uot;It’s fun now,&uot; junior first baseman Tracey Davis said. &uot; She (Mason) is real nice and sweet. We’re focused. We talk to each other. We’ve got some power. Everybody got stronger, and people have been lifting weights and stuff like that.&uot;
The team began workouts last week and will open up the season Tuesday at home against Cathedral. The team comes into the season with a few holes to fill from last season and other positions to be settled.
But all that should be settled soon as action begins next week.
&uot;The attitudes are good,&uot; said Mason, a former Franklin County coach. &uot;They’re hustling and having fun. I told them if they hustle and have fun, we’re going to win. They’re serious but relaxed, too. They want to go all the way. They want to win one game at a time through the playoffs and hopefully make it through.
&uot;I think it’s a realistic goal, too, with the depth we have.&uot;
But first things first. As with any other slow-pitch program, Mason and assistant coach Charlie Williams are spending time working on hitting and putting people on base.
It’s the biggest priority during practices so far, Mason said.
&uot;We’re focusing on line drives, base hits and hitting the ball in the center,&uot; she said. &uot;A lot of them are hitting it and popping it up. We’re working on hitting it in the center and through the infield.&uot;
Is there any bigger priority? The bats were up and down during last season, and Johnson knew when the bats clicked things would work their way. The team lost a little firepower with Lewis and speedster Mazique, but others may be ready to step and fill the void.
Green, another speedster and a slick-fielding shortstop, is back after she hit in the leadoff spot in the three-game set against Long Beach.
&uot;The attitudes &045; I think they’ve died down, and we talk to each other more,&uot; Green said. &uot;Coach Johnson told us we’ll go all the way this year. It’s like she said, if we get our hitting together, we’ll be good to go. I think we have a little more power. Most of the girls have been in the weight room working out, and I think that has helped us.&uot;
Tosha Davis may get the nod to take Lewis’ place on the mound at the team’s top pitcher, but other candidates are pushing for time on the mound in Rosetta Ikard, Cayce Champlin and Krystal Arnold.
&uot;She (Tosha Davis) does a pretty good job,&uot; Mason said. &uot;There a couple that have pitched before, but Tosha is almost consistent now.&uot;